Tag: League of Legends (page 2 of 2)

Theorycrafting

Courtesy Riot Games, Art by Akonstad

In this blogging space I’ve talked about writing and gaming in tandem. I’ve tried to give each a fair amount of time, but I’ve never really examined the connection between the two. Other than the overactive imagination, I think a big part of my inclination towards these activities is my tendency towards theorycrafting.

I haven’t been playing Magic: the Gathering that often in the last couple of weeks, mostly due to the hours I’m spending at the office lately. But I do love deck construction. I like seeing the cards available to a particular set or format and trying to find ways of putting an effective threat together, especially if it’s in a way that’s been unexplored. They don’t always work, of course, but that’s part of the appeal of experimentation: taking a chance to see what happens. I try to plan as many contingencies as I can before the game even starts.

The same could be said for the way I approach League of Legends. I spend some time looking over the abilities, statistics and build orders of various champions, toying with different sequences and combinations. When Nautilus was released a few weeks ago, I found his art, story and kit so appealing I picked him up and started toying with builds immediately. In fact, I’m still doing so, in order to find that balance between taking punishment and dishing it out. I may go more in-depth at another time as to why doing so in this game feels more satisfying to me than, say, StarCraft 2, but like my Magic decks, crafting and tweaking a champion’s progression long before I fire up the game is rewarding, especially when I manage to help the team win.

Part of this may be due to my experiences as a Dungeon Master. I delve into rulebooks and supplementary material, draw up maps, lay out stats and even stories for the NPCs and so on. I used to lay out elaborate and somewhat linear stories to lead my players down, but I realized quickly players want elbow room and freedom to choose for themselves. While this undermined my desire to tell a specific story somewhat, it also allowed me to plan more of those contingencies I like to ponder. DMs and players share these stories in equal measure, after all, there’s no reason for one side of the screen to hog all the fun.

This thread does carry through to my writing. It’s been said that writers are either ‘plotters’ who plan things out before pen hits papers (or fingers hit keyboard), ‘pantsers’ who fly by the seat of their pants, or a combination of the two. You can read more about the distinction here. For my part, I’m definitely more of a plotter than a pantser, with a great deal of time devoted to outlines, character sketches, expansion on background elements, and research relevant to the story. The problem with all of this theorycrafting, though, is that getting wrapped up in it can take time away from the actual writing that needs to happen. Then again, I know that if I don’t take the time to figure out where I’m going in the first place, I will hit a wall and sit looking at it for just as long.

Do you indulge in theorycrafting? Or do you jump right into things?

Drilling Fundamentals

Courtesy Riot Games

You hear this sort of thing all the time in regular sports. “We have to work on our fundamentals.” For the most part, this refers to striking, catching or otherwise working with a ball. Things like overarching strategy and specific on-field composition will matter, sure, but they matter a lot less if you’re not getting the ball to its intended target.

I’ve had to implement a similar policy in StarCraft 2. Once again I found myself overthinking my gameplay and tactics and letting such things distract me from the fact that I need to work on my most basic competitive skills. I’ve started keeping things at their most basic, and lo and behold I’ve started winning again.

League of Legends also finds me drilling on the fundamentals. Specifically, staying alive in the early game is something I’m finding difficult. I can be greedy, chasing the enemy far more often than I should. I’m working with a champion named Vladimir, who becomes very strong in the mid to late game but is squishy early on. If I can learn through him to stay alive more, and apply those lessons to carry-type heroes and the likes of Garen, I’ll be even more successful.

It’s highly likely the same goes for my writing.

Pursuant to yesterday’s post I find myself wondering if, in the process of thinking about rewrites, edits, pitches and projects, I’ve lost sight of some of the fundamentals of what I want to do. Hopefully making time to write the short due by the end of the week will help me recapture some of that, but I’m still reluctant to (as I see it) abandon my works in progress. I guess it all depends on how many irons I want in the fire at any given time.

What do you do when you need to drill fundamentals?

Twenty Twelve

Courtesy

So here we are, folks. The calendars have been swapped, the Dramamine passed around, the coffee brewed and we stand now looking at where the sidewalk ends.

It’s not like I think there’s any major cataclysm coming at the end of 2012. It’s far more likely that the Mayans simply felt that a couple thousand years was more than enough time to plan ahead for things. It’s unrealistic to think that they sat there carving dates into stone over and over again just for the carving’s sake. They had lives, after all. Or maybe the lives of the chroniclers was cut short by a conquistador’s saber. It’s something we may never know.

What I do know is that new years mean new possibilities. This takes the form of ‘resolutions’ for most. You can probably categorize what follows similarly, though most of mine are based on the previous year’s shortcomings.

While I did write quite a bit last year, I’ve little to show for it other than a pile of blog entries, a few YouTube videos, a pair of unrefined manuscripts and a half-dozen short stories in that curious limbo between “written” and “publishable”. So the first thing I’m going to do is get my fiction in print. That print may be electronic on an e-reader or out in the wild on one of those dwindling bookstore shelves, but it’ll get there, one way or another.

I discovered Day[9] in 2011, and as he suggests during his daily I plan on simply being a better gamer this year. I’ll try out more games, get better at the competitive games I play – StarCraft 2, League of Legends, shooters and games that of course haven’t been released yet. I’m talking about more than ranks as well. I’ll behave like a better gamer, support the independents and try to deliver as unbiased a review for a given game as possible. And if I find I was mistaken about something, you’ll be sure I’ll do my utmost to correct myself.

Music has been a big part of my life. I’d like to keep it as more than just singing in the car or shower and occasionally playing Rock Band with friends. I had piano lessons when I was younger and it may behoove me to try and blow the dust off that skill set, perhaps growing into guitar & electric bass playing. Returning to music can only help the flow of my creative juices, provided I can make the time and have the resources to do it.

Live healthier is one you often hear, but I know I’ve fallen away from healthy living a bit since I started commuting again. I miss walking to train stations and around downtown Philadelphia. There’s a Retro Fitness not far from my current location and it may be worth looking into.

I think that about wraps up the whole ‘resolutions’ thing. Here’s to a great 2012.

Learning New ARTS

Courtesy Riot Games
She’s like a miniature Tank Girl. Moreso than Strongbad, she is ‘tiny Heavy’.

I’ve had an interest in strategy games for many a year, from the tabletop war simulations like Squad Leader and Risk to 4X computer games in the style of Civilization and Master of Orion. I’ve made a series of entries on StarCraft 2. But like Master of Orion taking the 4X formula into SPACE, there was a precursor of the original StarCraft that shook up the standard RTS setup.

It’s a custom map for Warcraft III called Defense of the Ancients.

Often abbreviated “DotA”, the game does not focus on base construction or unit composition, but instead casts each player on the opposing teams as a single hero unit, supporting the automatically-generated waves of disposable peons called ‘creeps’ as they attack the enemy base. Each hero or ‘champion’ has a set of unique powers that they “level up” RPG-style and can also purchase items to bolster their abilities. This heady mix of RPG gameplay and RTS rhythm and competition has come to be known as either DotA-type, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games or Action RTS – ARTS.

I missed out on the initial DotA stuff, and actually had to dig out my old collector’s edition disk of Blizzard’s seminal RTS. Unfortunately I also require the expansion, The Frozen Throne, and while I have some copies of the disc I don’t know if such copies will be recognized for legitimate online play, even on a custom map. I don’t need Blizzard’s secret police knocking down my door. So while I wait for my next paycheck, I’ve been getting to know this variation on the game a bit more through Riot Games’ free-to-play take on the genre called League of Legends.

From what I understand thanks to some help from the fine gents and ladies of Team Liquid, there are some fundamental differences between League of Legends and the original DotA. The overall impression is that Riot’s entry into the ARTS is ‘easy mode’ as champions do not need to worry about getting in final hits, proper use of town portal scrolls and the mechanics of the more limited eengine. DotA sounds more unforgiving and, by extension, more rewarding than LoL. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

What makes games like League of Legends appealing is something I’ve alluded to previously. While you can get into team matches in StarCraft 2 they are not the crux of the game’s multiplayer scene. This may be the perspective of an admittedly casual gamer, but when it comes to extended sessions of games keyed for multiple players, going solo against a single opponent can get very lonely. I’ve had a few good experiences so far in LoL teaming up with others. I’ve had some bad ones, too, but I chalk that up to some of my fellow players being quick to blame newcomers like myself instead of examining their own shortcomings. Because that’s hard!

Anyway, League of Legends is at least helping me grasp the basics of this ARTS genre. Steam is working on a direct sequel to DotA itself, while Blizzard revealed that they are creating their own proprietary version with characters culled from their various IPs. I don’t feel pressed for time by either of these, and I do plan on firing up the original DotA once I’ve acquired a fresh, legit copy of Frozen Throne. For the most part this will strictly be for enjoyment, rather than some attempt to develop competitive skills.

I know I may never break into any level of professional gaming, nor do I want gaming to turn into a job to the point that I cease enjoying it. After all, if I had to focus entirely on one game for hours on end, things like League of Legends might pass me by completely. I’m entertaining the notion of starting an adventure in Terraria with a couple others, I plan on coaching a friend in Magic the Gathering and there will always be new single-player games to explore. However I spend my leisure time when firing up Steam or a console, the goal will not necessarily to be a top-level pro or boast the highest APM, but simply to have fun.

That’s what games are for, after all. Right?

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